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Learn the key ideas of the book by James Nestor


Learn to live life to the fullest by breathing properly

As human beings, we breathe on average 670 million times over the course of our lives: it is a mechanism which is on the one hand critical to our psycho-physical well-being, while at the same time being taken totally for granted. Yet most of us breathe badly, snore when we sleep, or suffer from breathing difficulties, such as sleep apnoea. Breath tells the story of James Nestor’s quest to discover the proper way to breathe, through interviews, travel, scientific studies, and his own research, in an attempt to rediscover the wisdom that has been lost over the centuries. In his book, the author traces the history of mankind, to explain how we came to be the worst breathing animal in the world, delves into distant knowledge acquired by previous, ancient civilisations, who had already studied various breathing techniques and come to understand the importance of breathing.

Read in 15 min.
Listen in 19 min.

Man is the animal that breathes the worst

Breathing is a much more complex process than simply inhaling and exhaling. It is not only necessary for life, but also greatly impacts both the length and quality of a person’s life. Tibetan monks, Indian mystics, Chinese doctors, and sages who lived among the ancient civilisations that once inhabited the planet, all understood that breathing correctly meant leading healthier lives that lasted longer.

The Chinese philosophy of Tao dedicated seven books to the breath, outlining its healing power, as well as the dangers that it presents; breath and spirit are one and the same for Hindus; Buddhists use the breath to access ever higher levels of awareness; some American Indian tribes taught their children how to breathe to help them grow stronger.

Today, however, following thousands of years of evolution, just when technology and medicine have made great strides forward, we must face the facts: of all the animals on the planet, human beings are the worst at breathing, and this has had some serious repercussions on our health. Millions of people around the world, especially in richer countries, suffer from chronic sinusitis, obstructed airways, asthma, and sleep apnoea, and there are many other health issues that can be traced back to incorrect breathing, from high blood pressure to being overweight, as well as autoimmune diseases and attention deficit disorders. 

Learning to breathe again, according to the teachings of our ancestors, going back hundreds and even thousands of years ago, is the key to living a healthier life. 


The key ideas of "Breath"

Man is the animal that breathes the worst
Breathing through the mouth is dangerous and unnatural
Breathing with the mouth: what changes in the human body
How the human respiratory system has evolved
From Homo sapiens to the lost art of breathing
The importance of breathing through the nose
The changes caused by the industrial revolution
The importance and benefits of chewing
The wonders of carbon dioxide in the human body
Meditations and prayers follow the natural breathing rhythm
Tummo, the meditation of the internal fire
Take-home message
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